Organ donor myths dispelled by transplant leader

Have you thought about being an organ donor but aren’t sure you would qualify? Here are some organ donor myths and facts to consider from New York Presbyterian Hospital.

MYTH: “I can only be an organ donor if I’m deceased.”

FACT: In addition to deceased donors, living donors can also save lives. It’s possible for a living person to donate a kidney, a portion of their liver, a portion of a lung and in some rare instances, a portion of the intestines and pancreas.

MYTH: “There are enough organs available in New York. I don’t need to become a registered organ donor.”

FACT: Only 30 percent of residents are registered organ donors –— in comparison, nationwide, the average is 52 percent. This statistic, coupled with the fact that every 18 hours someone in New York State dies waiting for an organ, helps explain why there aren’t enough organs donated to meet the needs of patients awaiting organ transplants.

MYTH: “I can only donate to someone I know or a family member.”

FACT: You can in fact donate to a stranger, as well as a family member or friend. It’s also possible to donate an organ to a person from another racial or ethnic group.

MYTH: “I’m too young/old to donate my organs.”

FACT: Although you must be 16 years of age to sign up on the New York State Donate Life Registry, age isn’t a factor in all donations. Organs have been transplanted from donors in their 70s and 80s, and even 90-year-olds have donated their livers in the United States.

MYTH: “I’m too sick and have too many health problems to become an organ donor.”

FACT: Very few medical conditions disqualify you from donating organs and tissues. While certain organs may not be suitable for transplant, other organs and tissues may be fine.

MYTH: “It’s against my religion to donate.”

FACT: Most major religions publicly endorse organ donation as the highest gesture of humanitarianism, including Catholicism, Protestantism, Islam, Buddhism and most branches of Judaism.

MYTH: “If I’m facing a life or death situation, doctors won’t try as hard to save my life.”

FACT: Medical professionals caring for a patient do everything possible to save a patient’s life, and have nothing to do with transplant and organ donation. If a patient becomes a potential organ donor, a separate team will discuss this option with the patient’s family.

MYTH: “Being a registered organ donor will interfere with being buried after I, or a loved one dies.”

FACT: Organ donation will not delay funeral arrangements or change any funeral plans. Additionally, open-casket viewing is possible after any type of donation.

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